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A Century At Downstate

Roy Aaron

Roy K. Aaron, MD’ 69

Roy K. Aaron, MD ’69 will be celebrating his 50th anniversary as a College of Medicine graduate next month, a milestone he feels has gone by very fast. After graduating 50 years ago, Dr. Aaron continued his education at Montefiore/Albert, followed by the Harvard Orthopedic Residency and fellowships at Brigham and National Institutes of Health. Since then, has gone on to become the Professor of Orthopaedics and Professor of Molecular Pharmacology, Physiology and Biotechnology at Brown University. In addition to his many teaching positions, Dr. Aaron is the Director of the Orthopedic Clinical/Translational Research Program and Research Director of the Miriam Hospital Joint Replacement Center.

Dr. Aaron’s clinical interests include joint diseases and conservative therapies for joint preservation, while his lab work consists of investigating the role of subchondral bone circulation in the initiation and progression of osteoarthritis. He is able to continue his work with funding from a combination of NIH, VA, and industrial support; this support has been instrumental over the last 30 years. He has also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the New England Arthritis Foundation.

Dr. Aaron credits SUNY Downstate with providing a great clinical foundation. He remembers Downstate for its didactic load, research experience and introduction to patients in clinics. It provided the transition from student to physician, and what established for him for a career in medicine. Dr. Aaron speaks fondly of his first introduction to bedside through Physical Diagnosis as a medical student. He remembers the clinical experiences of OBGYN, his first rotation, psychiatry, the fascinating rotation and pediatrics, the emotional rotation. His fondest memories, however, come from his experiences during his vascular research with Phil Sawyer and the neuropathology lectures he attended, given by Dr. Stanley Aronson, the latter of which he was able to forge an adult relationship.

Dr. Aaron describes his family as a Brooklyn family. They were dedicated to Downstate, Beth-El Hospital (now known as Brookdale) home of the Aaron Pavilion, and the Brooklyn Jewish Center which was built by his paternal grandfather. Additionally, witnessing the “changing face” of Downstate and Brooklyn has fostered an appreciation for cultural and ethnic diversity.

Jacob Halperin

Jacob Halperin, MD | Long Island College Hospital Class of 1907

The 50th anniversary is just one of many milestones for this Brooklyn family, as Dr. Aaron’s Downstate journey had been in the works since 1903 when his maternal grandfather Jacob Halperin, M.D entered Long Island College Hospital with the hopes of becoming a doctor. Dr. Aaron remembers his grandfather as a “dapper, precise and learned man”. One story that stands out in his mind was the time when his grandfather did rounds dressed as Mack the Knife from Threepenny Opera, after being called to the hospital. Why was Dr. Halperin in costume? He was in the middle of a New Year’s Eve costume party! In addition to being dapper, Dr. Halperin is remembered by his grandson as being loved, and not just by family, loved by Brooklyn. His funeral even had a procession down Linden Boulevard with staff from Beth El flocking to the sidewalks.

In addition to his maternal grandfather, Dr. Aaron’s father, Jules B. Aaron, MD graduated from Long Island College of Medicine in 1939 and the legacy continued with Dr. Roy Aaron’s son Daniel L. Aaron, MD’ 05. When asked about his son’s decision to continue the Downstate legacy, Dr. Aaron says he was thrilled. His son would be educated in “the trenches” by Drs. Eli Friedman, Hugh Carroll, and Mario Vassalle as he was.

In his travels along the coast from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Dr. Roy K. Aaron has witnessed to the impact of SUNY Downstate, noting the number of Downstate graduates “at the top rungs of academic and clinical medicine”.

It is safe to say SUNY Downstate has taught the best of the best, including the legacy that began years ago with Dr. Jacob Halperin!

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